Even in my groggy morning stupor, I couldn’t help being curious about the graphic posters lining my route to work. “Save the Tamales from Ronald McDonald,” they read. The posters looked almost political in nature – black with an iconic fist raised into the air, grasping a — tamale?
What could this be about, and what did it have to do with McDonald’s? I don’t know if it was my love for design or for tamales that made me slow down to make out the URL on the bottom of the poster, but I couldn’t wait to look it up!
The site was a single, long page featuring rotating images of the posters plastered throughout the city, adjacent to a running twitter feed. Just above the images was a quote: “Tamales are a thing of the Past” – McDonald’s Ad.
Scrolling down to “Learn Masa,” I read the full story. Apparently, a recent ad campaign from McDonald’s mocked those who turn to trendy health foods when they could be enjoying a juicy hamburger. (Personally, I love both.) But when using this tactic to market its McBurritos in Mexico, McDonald’s took it too far – dissing the tamale. Oops! Media backlash and uproar ensued.
Scrolling further, I reached the bottom of the page perplexed. This was obviously a pro-tamale guerilla marketing scheme, but who was behind it? I clicked on “Taste the Movement – order up here” not knowing what to expect.
Texas Tamale Company – you sly dogs! You might have seen their tamales for sale at HEB or Berings, or even ordered a pack online. They wisely took advantage of the situation, inviting customers to keep tamales top-of-mind, knowing that would ultimately give way to mouthwatering cravings. Both the posters and the site are well designed and do their job enticing people to learn more and share on social media. I appreciate that the campaign has its own look and feel, adding to the air of mystery.
The only thing missing is for the brand to have a stronger tie to the movement on the microsite. Without any subtle branded hints, users may never know who is behind the clever campaign. If I hadn’t clicked on “Taste the Movement,” I would have never found out. Some users may never get that far.
Overall, the treasure-hunt feeling of discovery made me smile. It also made my hungry. Check out the Texas Tamale Company here.
Photo by Katie Schumm. De-saturated and overlayed on red.